I do think Leonardo’s career skidded downward from the peak of mount Titanic, well, through no fault of his. Hardly could a buzz that huge be sustained by anyone. Even the man who made the classic possible, James Cameron, went into a vampirish sleep he never woke from till Avatar was birthed.
Leonardo had since remained the decent, albeit big, Hollywood star. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, and lately (what’s his name?) Robert Pattinson of The Twilight Saga have all looked more appealing to the paparazzi. Leonardo kept striving. Blood Diamond couldn’t drag him back on the lit podium despite its African appeal.
Now, more closely, many would draw a bold argument from the heights of 2004 when he won the Golden Globe Award for his role in the movie, The Aviators, or even point to The Departed as a great art. Yes, these are valid arguments at worst, but for me, they pale in the height of the past (Titanic) or the floodlight of what was to come. Yes, and it did come! Leonardo joined the Scorsese band and The Wolf of Wall Street was released, a product of alkaloid-induced ejaculation and foul tongue. We all got caught up in the euphoria. You too! No? The buzz is up once again. Need I rant about the Oscar nomination for best actor? That’s what I thought.
Now don’t scream Jack yet ’cause The Great Gatsby just rolled up the spool, staring…(you said it!) Leonardo DiCaprio. He was rich. He looked rich. He smelled of it. He was in love. None could have played the role better than Leo (like I like to call him). Director Baz Luhrmann got a great deal— Leo delivered!
And how are these movies doing financially? Pretty awesome, I’d tell you. The figures keep changing, grossing more and more by the week. I dare not declare the numbers, lest I be guilty of false rambling. Well, just forget the figures, enjoy the show— The Leo Show. The Awesomeness of 2013!
Director C.J. Fiery’s Unique Take: This is not a review.
First, let me kick this off real nice and sweet by saying this one thing – Martin Scorsese is a Master. Did you read that right? Yes, No? Here it goes again – Martin Scorsese is a Master. And here’s one special quality unique to Masters…
Masters can’t do wrong! It’s that simple.
I don’t care much for how many Scorsese films critics have bashed, it really doesn’t make any difference. Because the way I see it, If anyone can attain some kind of apotheosis by sheer reason of making awesome motion pictures, then be rest assured Martin Scorsese would attain apotheosis seven times over in one life time!
Okay, okay, did I hear you say “enough with the Scorsese praise already”? Did I hear you say “Get on with it already”? Well, here’s what I have to say to you – Did you make Goodfellas? I bet not. Did you direct Taxi Driver by any chance? I bet not, too. I mean, is there any way in the world you were involved in the inspiration and birthing of a destined-to-be masterpiece such as “The Wolf of Wall Street”? I guarantee NOT! So shut up and read! Any and whoever who has not in any way made or inspired a masterpiece as equally perfect as any of the ones I have afore mentioned should all just SHUT UP!
(Intermission to catch my breath)
Alright, I was asked to talk about why I think Scorsese is a genius with “Wolf” in perspective. So first off, this isn’t a review. I don’t do reviews. Being a filmmaker myself, I have much too much respect for the art-form, and it kind of makes me feel phony and funny to be on one end making art and on another end bashing art. I don’t know, shout out to all the critics, and by that I mean those who actually love film and know what the hell they’re talking about. Not the pretentious ones who just like to have something to say and sound smart, just for the sake. Don’t even get me started on those phonies.
The first time I saw The Wolf of Wall Street I was blown away. Like almost every other Scorsese flick I have ever seen since I was a kid. From brutal dramas like The Raging Bull to the subtle Taxi Driver, and rollercoasters like Goodfellas and Casino, to even the surrealistic Bringing out the Dead. They all meant something to me. They all changed me. I have been wowed, amazed and influenced from tender age to adulthood by many a filmmaker, from Lars von Trier, Sam Raimi, Terrence Mallick, David Lynch, Gus van Sant, David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, to mention only a few. But very few have I grown to respect as much as Mr. Scorsese, till date.
The Wolf of Wall Street as a motion picture is well on its way to becoming a masterpiece. Years from now it’s going to be so iconic that everyone is gonna be copying off scenes and styles from it. I included. Of course I unabashedly admit. Pay no heed to all the hypocritical bashers who call the film immoral and excessive and what not. They have absolutely nothing to say. Question is, how do you make a film that’s about people who live immoral and excessive, if you don’t well, make it immoral and excessive? How do you do that huh? I’ll tell you how…you do it the Scorsese way…you let all the actors talk dirty and curse at each other in almost every sentence, being that in real life they speak that way to each other. Also you film the actors getting high and having indiscriminate sex, and crashing their vehicles into stone walls. That’s how you do it!
And what’s so amazing about watching an excessive Scorsese flick like The Wolf of Wall Street. After watching almost 3hrs of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill shoot up drugs, have orgies, and see cocaine float through the air in slow motion (which by the way was too cool), you either end up having two feelings…hating rich people or wanting to get rich. Or maybe both. But then that’s three, so any how! Point is, the film makes you feel something. Which is what motion pictures are about isn’t it? Otherwise, what’s the point?
I walk in, to watch a Scorsese flick, I wanna be blown away. And I know he always delivers. I expect to be shocked, I expect to be intrigued. I expect to laugh like a madman. Scorsese delivers on all fronts. No money back!
From the beginning scene (a commercial skit) to the last scene, you’re hanging on to every degenerate part of it. What does that say of your primal nature eh? You like it, you really do, ‘cause I sure don’t see you walking out. And that right there is why Scorsese is a master. He keeps you seated! And when you’re done with the entire experience, ‘cause that’s what seeing a Scorsese flick is – an experience, it sticks with you. The scenes really stick with you. I mean, you watch a big blockbuster film with special effects and all, and you go “cool” “nice” but you forget it. It doesn’t stick. Scorsese films stick! I can practically recite every line from Goodfellas and Casino for you off the top of my head, and not because I made any conscious effort to remember them. I just do.
Scorsese is such a master. The way he would take an ordinary scene and make it into something so purely special, it’s something that never ceases to amaze me. Take for instance the scene where Jordan shows his new wife the yatch he bought her as a wedding present. Suddenly we cut away to another scene that’s in a mini-commercial format, with a falsetto narrative, showing the yatch and its features in and out. Less than 10 seconds. Other filmmakers would probably take you through the boring scenes where Jordan shows his wife around the yatch and she screams ecstatically and hugs him and they make love, blah blah blah. Not Scorsese! Also like the scene where Jordan goes to Switzerland and they have a discussion with the Swiss banker Jean Jacques played by Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and what Jordan really wants to know is if the Swiss bank will turn him over to the American Justice system if and when they come calling. How Scorsese played out this scene is so good, in that for a moment the two just stare at each other eye to eye and then have a mind-speak communication between them, like they can read what the other person is saying without actually talking! Brilliant! There’s also the scene where Jordan, Donnie and both their wives are in the storm and the yatch’s about to sink. Jordan wants Donnie to go get the cocaine, and Donnie goes to get the cocaine, amidst a sinking boat. When he eventually finds the cocaine, the look of pure joy on Donnie’s face, in spite of being terrified of dying, just epic! Scorsese is a master of dark humour, make no mistake about it! I also like how, after they were rescued from the storm by the Italians and all, that Jordan was looking through the window on the rescue ship and right outside, the plane that was supposed to come rescue them crashed, killing 3 rescuers, by reason of a sea gull. I like how it was only Jordan who saw that, while everyone else was dancing, drinking and laughing. I like how Scorsese was able to both trivialize and yet make important such an obviously heavy and turning point event in the life of Jordan Belfort. He did something similar with the scene where his wife tells him she is leaving him, after letting him make love to her for the last time. She informs him that she is leaving him with his kids and Jordan goes crazy, and desperately reaches for his coke, which he has conveniently stashed inside a pillow (‘cause the Feds are watching him, details, details!). He sniffs the coke, gets high and goes for his kid. By now he is not thinking clearly. He is angry, confused, and coked-up high. He is facing 20 years in prison if convicted, losing his money, company, friends, and everything he has worked for. And his wife now lays this on him. So he goes for the kid, puts her into the car, in a seatbelt, Thank God! And drives all the way out……..into a fence. If that’s not pathetic I don’t know what is. The Wolf of Wall Street is a cool-fest. What I mean is…it is a festival of cool scenes. I can’t possibly highlight every single one of them. But each proving the stellar Mastery of the Man behind the picture – Martin Scorsese.
So you have all these crazy fast-paced scenes, and these really dramatic, hilarious scenes, mixed up with these really witty and smoothly crafted dialogue (by Terrence Winter, nonetheless). Scorsese wins me over every time. And Scorsese is able to mix all these elements together like a Master he is, to make for a crazily, tempestuous ride into an almost 3hr masterpiece!
So who’s got something negative to say about Martin Scorsese again?
Someone in the crowd stands up to say something.
Shut up and sit down!
C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi is a Writer, Director and Editor. His credits include the surrealistic art house feature JIM & JOAN, and the upcoming thriller OJUJU.